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Before he could stir, the girl, with
a low cry, pressed her hands to her
head and darted into the under
growth. Rankin heard it crackle as
she ran; then the crackling died away
and he stood staring at his hideous
He understood now what she
meant by her disparagement of his
praises, and the remembrance, the
rising pity, made his love truer and
more intense than before. During
the year that followed, throughout
the fall "and the long, cold winter
months he dreamed perpetually of a
lake studded with sunshine and a girl
who stood beside him on its brink.
He understood the shame in her
heart, her swift disarmament by his
discovery of her secret. He longed
for her. He looked for her on every
street, but he never encountered her.
If she came back now he would
prove his fidelity. But he had little
hope that she would come. Yet, be
cause his love was stronger than his
disbelief, he stood upon the wooded
point of the same lake a year later
The sun . dropped in the sky, the
loon called, a trout leaped among the
lillies, and' then, sadly, he turned to
go. She would not come. He had
known it; and something went out
of his life like the sun that suddenly
went out of the sky. And then she
stood before him.
"You!" he exclaimed, catching her
by the hands and looking at her with
"You!" she answered, and the joy
in her face reflected that upon his
own. "0, I never dreamed that you
"Then why did you come?" asked
"Because I had pledged my word,"
she answered. "But you why have
you come here? Surely surely "
her voice was tremulous "that was
all a jest last year."
"I have come back to prove that it
was no jest," Rankin answered.
"No," she cried, and her cheeks
grew scarlet, "you have come back
because you are an honorable man.
You think you are pledged. But you
cannot want to marry me now. Her
voice fell. "You can't want to marry
me after after that," she whispered.
"But I do want you," he answered,'
taking her by the hands. "I love you?
just as much, I have dreamed of this
meeting all through the months of
our separation. Do you think my
love is so weak that it is to be in-1
fluenced by that. unhappy incident? If
you had never told me, but married
me, and I had discovered it after
ward, I should have been just as
She faced him squarely, looking
full into his eyes. "Suppose I -put
you to the test," she said. "Dare you
look upon me now as I am and
then say that you wish to marry
"I am ready," -Rankin answered
quietly. "But surely it is not neces
sary to put me to such a test as that.
It would only cause unnecessary suf
fering to you. Take me at my word
as I took you at yours."
For answer she unpinned her hat
and placed it on the ground. Then
she shook out her hair, fold upon
fold of rippling beauty, till it enfolded
her to the waist She swept it back
carelessly and looked tauntingly at
"Take it," she said, and held out
the glittering strands. Rankin stood
watching her, his arms folded; it was,
indeed, the supreme test of a man's
love, to see his sweetheart disfigured,
shorn, her beauty suddenly become
Suddenly, with an impetuous mo
tion she flung her arms round him.
"Oh, my dear, I believe in you
now," she cried. "Listen! I told you I
had been very 111 with typhoid last
summer. They cut my hair when I
was unconscious. Then, I came up
here to get well, and and I wore a
wig. And when you discovered my
secret I thought I would die of morti
fication. That, too, was why I